Tales : Laughing at the same joke

There was, once upon a time, a grandmother who had lived a very long time, and with every year of her life had added wisdom to her heart. As might be expected, the other women of her village respected her wisdom, and so when something was troubling them they used to come to visit her, bringing small gifts of fruits or food, and asking her advice.

Then the grandmother would make tea for her visitors and they would sit together and chat about one thing and another – sometimes not about their worries at all – and when the visitors went home, they felt their problems were lighter and it was easier to go on with their life.

But the grandmother noticed there was one woman who was coming each time with the same concern, and it seemed that no matter how many cups of tea the grandmother gave her, the problem remained the same. Each time this particular woman would come with a worried look, and with much woe tell the grandmother the same thing.

So, one day, after the grandmother had poured the tea, and heard the same worried complaint from this woman, the grandmother told her a small joke. It was well told, and the visitor laughed when she heard it.

When some days later, the woman came again with the same worry, the grandmother again told her a joke – but it was the same joke. This time the visitor smiled politely.

On a third visit, when the visitor repeated her worry, the grandmother told the joke again. This time, the visitor did not even smile, but said politely, “Grandmother, you have told me this joke.”

“Yes,” said the grandmother. “And you are right, daughter, you cannot laugh at a joke many times. But you cannot cry at the same trouble many times, either.”

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